The first time I breastfed Talitha in public she was days old. We were at Cribbs Causeway, a large shopping centre in Bristol.
Somehow Talitha and I had got separated from both Laurence and my parents. I was on my own in Boots when she started crying in her pram. I felt as helpless as she seemed.
I awkwardly manoeuvred my way out of the store. Flustered, I didn’t think to find a feeding room. I just found a bench. Careful that no one saw anything I breastfed her.
Two elderly women came up to me to see the baby. One smiled and said: “It is wonderful to see you breastfeeding your baby.” This was not the negative public reaction I’d geared myself up for! A few moments later, a mother with a toddler and an older child walked by. She caught my eye and gave me a thumbs up.
I laughed. I’d been so scared about doing this, breastfeeding in public, that to receive this kind of feedback from strangers was reassuring and even thrilling.
Over time, I relaxed. I had friends who were confident enough not to be so discreet, which bolstered my own confidence. I realised that to allow Talitha to latch on to my breast consistently well, I needed to give her time and space, which at times meant a bit of exposure.
When my supply issues came to light, I became even less discreet. I compressed my breast and even occasionally took my SNS for an outing. The latter admittedly attracted A LOT of attention. I almost bought a nursing cover for this alone. Thankfully, I usually was so absorbed in what I was doing that I couldn’t get too caught up in what others were thinking.
Overall, my experiences of breastfeeding publicly have been affirmative (though I did attend a breastfeeding demonstration – pictured above – to support a woman for whom it was not so).
I have become conscious again of eyes on us now that Talitha is a toddler. Round about 18 months, I noticed some stares and deflected probing questions. I even considered restricting breastfeeding to our home. There may yet come a tune for that as she gets older and can understand more. I wouldn’t want her picking up on others’ negativity and, sadly, the longer we continue the more potential there is for this.
Right now, though, I don’t particularly feel the need to deny her when we’re out. I might distract her or ask her to wait if it’s not convenient but I am just as likely to succumb to her insistent request for “Moolk, moolk, moolky!”
In fact, I’d like her to grow up in a world where people approach mothers breastfeeding toddlers and older children to tell them what a wonderful job they’re doing. It may be unlikely but it’s not impossible.
I’ve written this post for this year’s Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, celebrating National Breastfeeding Awareness Week 2013. To gather points for a chance to win a grand prize of LOTS of breastfeeding-related products, leave a comment telling me a funny breastfeeding story or, if you’re not breastfeeding yet or are entering for someone else, tell me why you think women should breastfeed in public then, enter the Rafflecopter widget below.
You can gather more points by checking out some of the other bloggers participating in the hunt this week:
I am also offering in this post a chance to win an Emma-Jane 830 Deluxe Nursing Vest with BoobieMilk, organiser of the hunt and a lingerie company run by an experienced breastfeeding peer supporter. It’s a great solution for discreetly breastfeeding in public, if you want to be discreet.
No need to enter again. A winner will be chosen at random from the comments left on this post on Wednesday 3rd July 2013 and will be announced here and contacted on that day. Deadline for entries to win the nursing vest is 23.59 on Tuesday 2nd July. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.The winner is Catherine Miller.
You can also find out more about the hunt here.